Puzzling

02/06/2012

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Watching my children put together puzzles is an exercise in self-restraint. I thought that everyone started by finding the 4 corners, separating the edges and the middles, building the frame, and filling in the middle. Simple, right? Not my kids.
They like to look for pieces that they can match up right away, a section with words or a brightly colored spot. Once they find the pieces to put together that section of the picture, they build it out from there. Herbie does not mind my suggestions of building the frame; or if he finds a piece that does not fit in the area that he is working, it is OK to put it approximately where it looks like it will go, as a place holder. But his preference is to build from a starting point and go outwards.
The Wise Old Owl, on the other hand, gets a little upset at me for putting on pieces not right where he wants to work. He will in fact remove a piece that is too far from the central area where he is working. So I have to step back and watch. He usually builds from a corner and goes outward, completing the puzzle relatively quickly, but saving the last piece. He will push it firmly into the last spot, slightly turned so that it does not fit, declare that it does not fit, and hand it to me. Then he laughs as I put the last piece into place.
We do puzzles every day--maps, outer space, Curious George, cars and trucks. One day with the PCA, they set up 20 puzzles around the kitchen and hallway, wanting to leave them all together to admire their work. She laughed at how hard it was to not build the frame, letting them do the puzzles their way.
I wonder why it irks me that they do a puzzle differently. Their methods make total sense in their little minds and yet I feel like I have to correct them. Could it be that their different way of thinking is really an asset, a gift? When they are trying to solve puzzles in life, will their different perspective actually give them an advantage? While I insist on building the frame so I have a guide to build the picture, they can start with a small bit and create the picture without a frame. They do not need the framework that I need.
In life, I like to have a frame, a road map of sorts. What is the big picture? How does everything go together? I am troubled because I really do not know. My kids take it one piece at a time and build a beautiful picture. They live in the moment. What a lesson for me.

 


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